SC fines Prashant Bhushan Re 1 for contempt; pays, reserve proper to file assessment plea: Activist-lawyer

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31 

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan to pay a Re 1 effective by September 15 for contempt of courtroom, failing which he will likely be despatched to jail for 3 months and debarred from practising regulation for 3 months.

A 3-judge Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra — which had held Bhushan responsible of contempt of courtroom on August 14 for scandalising the Judiciary by his tweets towards CJI SA Bobde and 4 former CJIs — took robust exception to the contemnor speaking to the press and releasing his assertion to journalists upfront. 

Bhushuan introduced additional disrepute to the courtroom by giving vast publicity to his statements earlier than they have been thought-about by the highest courtroom, stated the Bench which additionally included Justice BR Gavai and Justice Krishna Murari.

Bhushan’s act of releasing his assertion to the press earlier than it was thought-about by the courtroom amounted to interference within the administration of justice, stated the Bench.

Addressing a press convention later, activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan stated he’ll submit the token effective of Re 1 imposed by the Supreme Court within the contempt case for his tweets towards the judiciary, but additionally indicated he would file a assessment plea towards the order.

Bhushan stated he has the best respect for judiciary and the tweets weren’t meant to disrespect the apex courtroom or the judiciary.

“I reserve my right to file review, I propose to submit and pay fine as directed by the court,” Bhushan stated in a press convention.

The prime courtroom had on August 25 reserved its order on sentence after listening to detailed arguments from senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, representing Bhushan and Attorney General KK Venugopal.

A defiant Bhushan had refused to apologise, saying an insincere apology would quantity to “contempt of my conscience and of an institution that I hold in highest esteem”.

Dhavan had urged it to not make him a martyr. “My humble and most respectful submission is don’t make Prashant Bhushan a martyr,” Dhavan had stated. If the courtroom needed to debar Bhushan from practising regulation, it should hear him first, he had submitted.

Venugopal had stated, “My suggestion would be to give a quietus to this matter without getting into that exercise.” 

Maintaining {that a} warning would suffice, the Attorney General had stated Bhushan should specific remorse and withdraw his affidavit justifying his controversial tweets towards CJI SA Bobde and 4 former CJIs.

Justice Mishra – who is because of retire on September 2 – had famous throughout the listening to that it was fairly painful to determine a contempt case simply earlier than demitting his workplace.

Maintaining that criticism of judiciary was welcome, Justice Mishra had stated judges can’t be attributed motives. “Which judge is left out — sitting or retired?…Judges are condemned, their families humiliated…and they can’t even speak…Who will protect them, if not the Bar?” he questioned.

“It’s about the system. If we (Bar & Bench) are going to destroy each other, who will have faith in this institution? You have to be tolerant, see what the court is doing and why. Don’t just attack. Judges can’t go to press to defend themselves or explain,” Justice Mishra stated.

In one other contempt case initiated towards Bhushan in 2009 for his assertion that half of the 16 former CJIs have been “corrupt”, the Bench agreed to discuss with an acceptable Bench the query of battle between proper to free speech and suo motu contempt powers of courtroom.

It had directed that the matter be positioned earlier than the CJI for sending it to an acceptable Bench for additional listening to on September 10 after Dhawan stated these points wanted to be determined by a bigger Bench. — With PTI inputs

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